Tenacious D, the self-proclaimed greatest band in the world, are on a mission. The duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass no longer abides our current political client, and is going to make things right with a new concept album and animated YouTube series — both titled Post-Apocalypto — about a battle to prevent Earth’s destruction. Like previous D efforts, it features Dave Grohl on drums and a lot of penis jokes. Unlike those, it takes on serious topics: Trump’s America, the #MeToo movement, feminism, and racism — all with whimsical puerile humor and kickass rock tunes.
Here’s what Black and Gass had to say about creating their most socially conscious and filthiest opus yet.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I watched the first three minutes of this cartoon in public and had to turn it off because of the adult illustrations.
JACK BLACK: Yeah, you’ve got to be ready for it. It’s not for kids. It’s spicy. There’s gonna be some nutsacks and different things flying at you. This is for the grownups.
When did the project — the album, the cartoon — come about?
JB: When Trump came down the escalator [to announce his run for presidency]. That’s when we realized we had to abandon the concept that we were working on for our new album. I said, “No, we’re going full-on post-apocalyptic musical comedy, animated.” It was definitely a thing we needed to do right now at this time in, not just American history, the world’s history. We feel like the world needed saving, and that’s what this is, our bid to save the world. We’re just doing our part, man, trying to do what’s right.
You have Elon Musk, Johnny Depp, and Donald Trump Jr. as characters, all individuals that have been in the news within the past few months. How much did you have to change to keep up with what’s going on?
KYLE GASS: Nothing. This is a great example of life imitating art. We did the stuff a year ago, and now it’s coming true.
How did you get Dave Grohl on this project?
JB: We just called him and he said, “Yeah.” We knocked it out in one day.
KG: I always say, “Dave, if you want to kick it around and write some songs, dog, let’s do this. Let’s write some hits.” But so far, he’s never been receptive to it. Maybe it’s the way I’m asking…
JB: Dave’s been a blessing to the D. He’s been on all our records. We just can’t believe he does it. He’s like our guardian angel, but he brings the demonic thunder. He’s our guardian demon.
Were there any musical influences that you guys explored in this?
KG: Nope. None. Next.
JB: The obvious is the great rock operas of old: Tommy by The Who, and Pink Floyd’sThe Wall. We wanted to be mentioned in the same breath as those. There’s others that I’m not gonna mention, ’cause I don’t want to be in the same breath as them.
KG: You forgot to mention Sgt. Pepper’s with the Bee Gees.
JB: No, no, no. See, you’re ruining it, Kyle. My OCD only allows three. The Wall, Tommy and Post-Apocalypto. I think our movie kicks ass on The Wall and Tommy, by the way. The albums are f—ing great, but let’s be honest: both of those movies are pretty s—ty. That’s where we win.
This could be your path to an EGOT.
KG: And we have a Grammy. So, all we need is an EOT.
At what point did you guys decide that this had to be probably the dirtiest thing you’ve done so far, at least on film?
KG: Well, your supposition is that we were attempting to make something really dirty.
JB: Yeah, that’s not the case. We spoke from the heart, but the cocks snuck in.
Do you think the penis jokes will take away from the seriousness of the message?
KG: It separates the critics from the fans.
JB: Also, there’s not really any jokes. There are a lot of dicks, but that’s the weird nightmarish world we live in, where at any moment the real apocalypse could take place, and it would be because our president is so insecure.
In episode two, you meet the powerful, dominant cavewomen. It seems timely.
JB: Well, look. It’s the year of the woman. It may be the decade. It may be the century. It could be the millennium of the woman. That was the inspiration behind that particular episode and that big scene that runs throughout.
In a way, is writing an album like this therapeutic for you as well as a drive to make others happy?
KG: There’s just times in history when the bulls— starts piling so high that if you’re not doing something, to use the cliché, you’re part of the problem. If you’re just standing by watching it burn down…. It’s not patriotic. We’re just doing what we do, and then applying it towards what we believe. That’s America.
And it’s so much more pointed than anything else you’ve done.
KG: Oh, God, yeah. For sure. This definitely felt different.
JB: It’s funny, because this thing that we’re doing is our most mature in that we’ve evolved to this point where we can talk about political things, but it’s also our most immature in that it’s so f—ing adolescent. The sense of humor and the drawings are straight from a 13-year-old’s f—ing penis sketchbook.
The Post-Apocalypto Cartoon Is Available on YouTube, the Album Is Out November 2.